U.S. E-Commerce Shows Solid Q2 Growth

Consumers spent over $5.5 billion (US$) shopping on the Internet during the second quarter of this year, an increase of 5.3 percent from first quarter online sales of $5.24 billion, according to separate figures released Thursday by Nielsen//NetRatings and the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC).

The figure represents .68 percent of all retail sales, which totaled $815.7 billion during the same period of April-June, and saw a bump of 9.1 percent from first quarter sales of almost $748 billion.

“Shopping sites are pulling in enormous traffic, showing the global appeal and swelling potential of shopping on the Internet,” said David Day of ACNielsen eRatings.com.

Day added, “Content-rich e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay are leading this trend by attracting large global audiences and generating large numbers of page views. One in 10 people online in July went to eBay, reflecting its global significance.”

More Shoppers

According to the Stamford, Connecticut-based Nielsen//Net Ratings, 52 million Internet users — and 42 percent of home Internet users — visited e-commerce sites in July, representing an increase of 3 million over June’s figures.

Meanwhile, a recent survey by Internet research firm eMarketer predicted that 68 percent of all U.S. Web users will be online shoppers by the end of this year, with the figure increasing to 77 percent by 2003.

Gender Differences

The Nielsen survey also revealed that Net shoppers are not a homogenous group. For example, Amazon attracted a majority male audience outside the U.S. — a trend most noticeable in the United Kingdom, where twice as many men visited Amazon as women.

In the U.S., however, female surfers outnumbered male surfers on Amazon by a 54 to 46 percent margin.

“Like many global e-commerce sites, Amazon is most mature in the U.S.,” Day said. “While it has successfully garnered female shoppers in the U.S., its more recent expansion into other product areas, such as software, PC and video games, auctions and DVD and video products, has clearly attracted male shoppers outside the [United States].”

July results also showed Yahoo! with a leading global position, attracting 66 million individuals, followed by AOL with 62 million users and MSN’s audience of 50 million. Rounding out the top ten were Microsoft, Lycos, GO Network, About.com, AltaVista, and Time Warner.

Amazon and eBay finished 14th and 16th respectively in the popularity poll.

About the Survey

To collect the data, the DOC surveyed 12,000 businesses engaged primarily in retail activities, including online divisions of brick-and-mortar merchants and companies selling goods and services exclusively via the Web.

The DOC report does not take into account online travel services, financial brokers and dealers, ticket sales agencies, manufacturers, and wholesalers because they are not classified as retail operations. They are not included in either the total retail or retail e-commerce sales estimates.

The latest statistics are part of the government’s effort to gauge the impact that Internet business is having on U.S. economic expansion. As part of that plan, the DOC began issuing quarterly estimates in March of online sales.

Thursday’s report is its third on e-commerce.

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